Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Summer Reads 1: Matters of the Blood / Dispatches from Alburquerque

Maria Lima. Rockville MD. 2007.
ISBN-10: 0809557905, ISBN-13: 978-080955790-6

Michael Sedano

A "summer read" is one of those confections you pick up motivated to while away a few hours lounging by the pool, or to occupy the mindless hours eaten up in a transcontinental airplane ride.

Maria Lima's debut novel mixing supernatural humanoids with vampires in the Texas Hill Country is that type of novel. "Humanoid" might not exactly be on the mark. The main woman critter, Keira Kelly, is a supernatural, but comes with all the hormones to feed a healthy sexual appetite for humans and her own kind, but that goes unrequited in these pages when she's captivated by an alluring violence-renouncing vampire.

Maria Lima crafts a plot that brings the king of the vampires to a vampire guest ranch in Rio Seco Texas. Keira feels incredible horniness for the vampire, and he the same. Complicating matters is the local hunk of a sheriff, Keira's former lover. Keira's best friend is the local Mexicana restauranteur, a most understanding human who knows all about Keira's unhuman, immortal, identity and is liberal enough to lust after Keira's studly brother, a werewolf, though the correct term, evidently, is "shapeshifter."

A bumbling human cousin, a couple of refugees from Nazi evil, and a pair of bumblingly dangerous local crooks get mixed up in a plot to kill locals and sell their drained blood to the vampire ranch. Keira turns crime-solver and wraps up the whole mess through ingenuity and a modicum of supernatural skill.

The only contemporary vampire novels I've read are Mario Acevedo's Felix Gomez mysteries, so I'm not sure if Lima is writing into a set of otherworldly conventions. Still, there's little comparison. Acevedo writes a lot of humor and chicanismo into his titles, whereas for Lima, almost everything is secondary to Keira's lust and crime-solving.

Dispatches from Alburquerque

This week I'm attending the 2008 National Latino Writer's Conference as La Bloga's representative on a panel discussing internet resources for writers. The organizers have laid out an interesting and fulfilling schedule of workshops and readings that run from Wednesday through Saturday morning.

I'll be posting event summaries and other material daily. For information on this year's conference, visit their website

One of the first goals I have is clearing up the spelling issue. Rudolfa Anaya makes a point in his first Sonny Baca novel to include the first "r" in Alburquerque, though I don't remember exactly what the point was. Another first goal is meeting and thanking Teresa Marquez, founder of a long-gone much lamented CHICLE list. It's CHICLE that brought together Rudy Garcia, Manuel Ramos, and myself, in a long-distance association that eventuated to become La Bloga.

I'm looking forward to finding more fun summer reads, and as they come past my fingers, I'll share them here. In the meantime, I'd enjoy learning your views on other vampire works, or chicana chicano latina latino works of fantasy and sci-fi. This week, I'm travelling with Abraham Rodriguez' South by South Bronx, which, as far as I've gotten, is not a summer confection.

Hey! Sabes que? It's not too late to venture a guess at the identity of the writers in Manuel Ramos' first lines pop quiz. Make your guesses before reading the comments, then send 'em in by adding your comments, or sending in your own favorite first lines.

La Bloga welcomes guest columnists. Please let any La Bloga bloguera bloguero know by leaving a comment, sending an email, or clicking here to let us know.

See you later this week with dispatches from Alburque, and next week, too.



norma landa flores said...

Orale! Michael, thanks for La Bloga. This is your former speech communication student, Norma Landa Flores, "La SPCHOLA". I retired from Golden West College and have written a collection of 17 reader's theatre-type plays about my mother's experiences leaving Jalsico and settling in Boyle Heights. I had "Cuca's Cunundrums" copyrighted and was thinking of getting it published. But my editor/son, Porfirio, says it would be better for me to turn it into a novel. La Bloga's samples of opening lines that work, helped me greatly.Muchas gracias and have a good time in New Mexico.

msedano said...

my gosh, norma! doesn't this take me/us back more than few years? i think you were there when helen viramontes was one of the office clerks, just heading off to irvine, que no?

it's great hearing from you. i'd love to read some of your material. what are the chances of that? we'll go for cafe when i get back next week, que te parece?


norma landa flores said...

Good idea! email me at nlflores@pacbell.net

Norma Landa Flores, La SPCHOLA